Medical marijuana uses the marijuana plant. The marijuana plant contains more than 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the main chemicals used in medicine. THC is the addicting chemical and is the one that makes people feel “high”. It is becoming easier to get marijuana, legally.
In the last 20 years, 33 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have passed laws that make it legal to use marijuana for medical purposes. There are multiple diagnosis that have been approved for the use of medical marijuana, however only few have good evidence of therapeutic benefit. A systemic review done in recent article looked at all randomized controlled trials of cannabis or cannabinoids to treat medical conditions.
Medical marijuana was associated with some pretty impressive improvements in complete resolution of nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy. It was shown to reduce chronic pain and it was also shown to reduce spasticity in multiple sclerosis. There’s a little bit of evidence that marijuana might help with anxiety and insomnia. Medical marijuana is not beneficial in patients with dementia. Like any other medication there are side effects. These include dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, vomiting, disorientation, confusion, loss of balance and hallucination. There’s also the potential for abuse.
Another issue is that the FDA doesn't oversee medical marijuana like it does prescription medication. That means the strength of and ingredients in medical marijuana can differ quite a bit depending on where you buy it. Dosing is a problem too, hard to say when is too much. Medical marijuana is still controversial and exciting at the same. I feel we will see good things coming for medical marijuana in the future once it becomes more available for research purposes. Like it or not medical marijuana is here to stay. Hope it helps. Let’s celebrate aging!!!
J. Roberto Duran, III, MD